by Stephanie Hogg
October 22-28 is a special event to some in the LGBT+ community, to minorities within a minority. It is Asexuality Awareness Week, and ironically the majority are not aware that this under-represented sexuality has an awareness week, let alone that it has just passed.
For those of you haven’t heard of asexuality – it’s alright, neither had I until the tail end of high school. Quite simply, it is the absence of sexual desire to anyone. As the asexual representative on the LGBT+ Society committee, people wanting to know what asexuality entails is encouraging because spreading awareness is exactly what I signed up for when I joined the committee two years ago. Hearing “so you’re basically gay/straight?” and “but HOW?” – not so much. There is a line between curiosity and ignorance.
Asexuality is, paradoxically, the easiest yet most difficult sexuality to understand. Easy in that it can be explained in less than six words; difficult because sex permeates every layer of our society, and the idea that there are people who have no interest in that at all can gain a reaction that can range from incomprehension to outright offended.
To grasp this, imagine that you’re born with no sense of smell in a world that venerates scent.
Perfumes are used in all advertisements, from cleaning products to technology. When you tell others that you don’t have a sense of smell, they ask if you’re sure before spraying perfume anyway and acting shocked when you don’t describe what their body mist smells of.
Or, perhaps worse, feeling offended that you don’t appreciate their perfume. Sometimes, the cloying odour of a world saturated in scent is so strong it feels like you’re choking as it’s shoved at you from every movie, every shop, every direction possible. This is what it’s like to be asexual.
I embrace my identity as asexual in this sexual world because visibility is more important than ever. I, and many other asexuals, have had trouble reconciling their feelings with what society states everyone should be feeling.
People talk about girls liking girls, boys liking boys, and everything in between, but feeling no attraction is like a glitch in the Matrix. This broken feeling is something nearly every asexual has experienced at some point.
The fear that something is wrong because everybody seems to feel something except you is all encompassing. It is only through the spread of information and visibility can this be combated.
Even after the struggle of discovering asexuality, dug up from the internet like the holy grail, this identity is casually erased as “basically straight” or “basically gay”. Asexuality is lesser known, not lesser.
It does not deserve to be lumped under a different header due to ignorance, like a bastard love child of another sexuality – the Jon Snow of the LGBT+ community.
Even within this community, there is misinformation (I’ve heard from four separate people that they would have dated me, but asexuality means no sex – it doesn’t, it’s down to personal preference – so I was placed firmly in the friend category).
Having a place in the LGBT+ acronym does not stop this. The full spelling is LGBTQIA, and far too many times I’ve heard others say that the A stands for Ally. Allies are important – they spread awareness and help create the change in the world we need to see so that all genders and sexual orientations can live without fear.
However, erasing asexuality to give them a place in the acronym is not a way to thank someone for meeting a base requirement for being a decent human being.
There have been developments – shout out to Emmerdale for recently starting a positive storyline about a girl realizing she’s asexual – but these are overshadowed by all the negative and ignorance that still face asexuals.
But it’s there, a shining light in the gloom, and that’s all the encouragement I need to stand up for my sexuality. A is for Asexual. And if I must shove that in the face of everybody I meet, then so be it.